Recent comments

  • OP/ED: In defense of our teachers   1 year 3 days ago

    Thank you, Kyra, for your excellent analysis of a complex subject.  Better education (and education, like everything else, could always be better than it is) is not the solution to every problem. But it's probably the best tool we have.  You have to wonder how those who routinely criticize teachers and advocate cutting their wages suppose this can possibly lead to better performance. 

    Even more puzzling is why, in view of the tremendous damage being done to our environment by corporations (aka "the private sector")  for the sake of greater profits, some seem to believe that turning essential services over to the private sector will automatically lead to better...anything.

  • LETTER: Teachers using kids to mask greed   1 year 3 days ago

    I am in full support of the Rossland Telegraph and read it daily, but to run such an opinionated letter without a signature is appalling. Print newspapers have always had a policy to never do so unless the letter-writer is put in danger by the publishing of their letter. Somehow I don't think that's the case with this one. I can accept the wish for anonymous commenting (though I would prefer people stood by their opinions, and don't like the bravado anonymity can bring), but not anonymous letters. There has to be accountability.

    And in response to this letter, Kyra says it better than I ever could in her recent editorial:

    Thank you Kyra!

  • LETTER: Teachers using kids to mask greed   1 year 4 days ago

    You're absolutely wrong when you state that "nobody feels free to say what they really think for fear or reprisals."  A great many people have spoken up on the teacher issue, both pro and con, and as far as I know, nobody has been shot for it yet.

    Maybe you were talking about yourself when you made that statement, and of course, nobody can challenge you regarding your own feelings. But I will point out that you HAVE said what you really think--albeit in a cowardly way. Instead of doing it openly, you hide your identity while trashing at a whole group of working men and women who, by your OWN ADMISSION are dedicated and hardworking.

    As a profession, yes, it is a "lifestyle choice." Like any other profession one might choose. Some are unable to carry the burden and stress this profession entails.  Some can, and do the best they can. Whether they are great teachers, merely good teachers, or mediocre ones, they are helping raise every child. If that line of work doesn't deserve the best salary a society can provide, I can't think what does.




  • How will Rossland resolve its governance mess...or will it?   1 year 4 days ago

    Andre, you have not only explained with absolute clarity how Rossland's City Council's turning over most of its responsibilities to the CAO resulted in the governance mess that the city is now in and for which citizens are now paying, but you have also made it absolutely clear as to what the solution is.  Thanks!




  • How will Rossland resolve its governance mess...or will it?   1 year 4 days ago

    If Council is determined to fix the mess at City Hall it will have to provide direction and instruct a CAO who is willing, able, and committed to pursue Council's objectives.

    To put itself in a position to so direct and instruct the CAO, Council would first have to reclaim all the powers, duties and functions it delegated to the CAO years ago. In other words, Council would first have to repeal the Delegation Bylaw and amend the Officers Bylaw.

    It would make no sense to hire a new CAO under the current conditions. The results would likely be not unlike what occured the last time Council hired a replacement for Mr. Kumar.

    It will not be easy, and as to cheap, forget that too as whatever you do will be costly. Get used to it.


  • How will Rossland resolve its governance mess...or will it?   1 year 4 days ago

    Andre, would it be easier and/or cheaper to acheive this with a new CAO and new CAO contract? I understand our current CAO has been off work for quite a while with an illness or disability, and I'm not sure if she's coming back or not.

  • LETTERS: GF Resident presents water metre concerns to mayor   1 year 6 days ago

    Donna, you have done an excellent job of researching these points.  I hope the council's feet are held to the fire in responding to you and answering the concerns you have raised.

  • Walmarts and farmers’ markets—should people serve the economy or does the economy serve people?   1 year 1 week ago

    Andre, you write, "Development generates new taxable assessment, but the promise of more cash in the till is moderated by the cost of having to extend municipal services. The challenge is not only to deliver expanded services without negative impacts on the established community, but to also achieve a net gain for the community." 

    I believe this thought would be viewed as revolutionary by members of the Rossland council.  Not the part about deveopment generating new tax income, that they get right away. But the idea that (a) new developments have to be serviced and said services may well exceed the taxes generated; and (b) development (as in, allowing our most precious resource--land-- to be used for something different than what it is used for now)  ought to result in a net gain for the COMMUNITY (not just the developer.) And (c) "net gain for the community" ought to be measured in other ways than purely financial.

  • COMMENT: Parliament defeats food safety bill   1 year 1 week ago

    Democracy in action- I'm sure no one in Canada would like to know what we are eating EHH! But then it is the same way with GMO's they don't want you to know otherwise Monsanto and those like him would not be able to continue poisoning us EHH?

  • COMMENT: Taxes and Their Role in Our Society   1 year 1 week ago

    It is truly amazing that there are so many thumbs down on this one. Come on people open your eyes corporations are only interested in profit rather than the good of the country or mankind. Take for example the CNR Rail the corporation can't even bother to keep the rail line or equipment in good repair--- costs money to Hell with safety. How about corporations that take work away from Canadians and have everything done in low wage countries and then sell here. If they take their work to other countries let them sell there as well and not here. None so blind as he who will not see.

     Military Industrial Complex   THEY want you  Truth never told.



  • OPEN LETTER: The City's 'trash talkin' swagger' in the face of AGLG report is shameful   1 year 2 weeks ago

    A collective small city team of a mayor, council, and manager must cost effectively communicate with the public. Electronic media is one of the ideal platforms to have. We are very fortunate to have those at the Telegraph to also be a watch dog of sorts. Those hired or in elected positions might not have much for public relations skills. However, this may not be a necessary skill depending on the characteristics of the mayor or the manager. The city then takes on the characteristics of those voices.

    The team at city hall must respect all questions, compliments or criticisms brought forward in any report, editorial or even general comment as an opportunity. The high values of public interest and opinions are quickly brushed aside if something goes wrong or after the election campaigning ends. The campaigning and elected responsibilities can be exhausting on some. But getting the supporting votes is only on part of the responsibilities.

    I agree the changing dynamics seen at city hall are a huge concern. The entire fault of dynamics at city hall shouldn’t be solely placed on the elected positions. A problem at city hall seen in the last decade or more is the absence of both a strong and cooperative administrative manager. We have seen several types of managers during this period. Some were hired to complete specific house cleaning tasks; some were hired primarily based upon a private recommendations without much review; some managers set higher values on self-interest over public interest and even silenced the voice of those elected; and some might not even have an effective knowledge of the community charter.

    Once again, the basic fundamentals used for open and transparent public communication are critical to building trust and mutual respect. Respect is needed at all levels. But some always appear to make no effort to earn it.

    If self-interest takes power, it just might be four years of shaking heads and public disrespect of city hall.

  • COMMENT: Taxes and Their Role in Our Society   1 year 2 weeks ago

    It never fails to amaze me how these simple facts fail to penetrate the skull of the average person who supports tax cutting political parties. This 'average person' and their friends and family benefit from the programs taxes pay for! So with Stephen Harper in power, the majority of this nation is voting directly against its own interests!

    'Why?' is the fascinating question, of course. We could say propaganda. I, however, lean more toward a widespread societal belief in 'tough love' or 'the school of hard knocks' where many of us have had hard times in our lives and instinctually think that the best solution is to stand on one's own, etc. It's more psychological, if you will, than political. It's certainly not rational or supported by facts.

    People who use social support services are often spoken of as though they were spoiled children and the conservative voter (I believe) wants a society that will 'help them grow up'. But the reality is very different--see my previous comment on this thread about the real nature of the 'lazy welfare bum'.

    The agonizing aspect of all this is that, in the 21st century, we have such a mass of data on different social/political systems that none of this is really a legitimate matter of political debate any more. It's just better for society in general if we take care of the weak. I mean, Jesus said this over 2000 years ago! And yet here we are, still 'debating' it as though it was still a legitimately-contentious issue...

    Come on right a comment with ANY credible evidence that supports your views that tax cuts benefit society! I dare ya...

  • LETTER: Paranoia or due process   1 year 2 weeks ago

    It is not good enough to refer to the "democratic process" without first establishing the nature of democracy you refer to.

    Funk & Wagnall's Canadian College Dictionary defines democracy as follows:

    "A form of government in which political power resides in all the people and is exercised by them directly (pure democracy), or is given to elected representatives (representative democracy)."

    Pure democracy is what makes it possible for the Swiss to vote in a national referendum to be held next Sunday (May 18, 2014) on a whole raft of matters, including a decision by their federal government to purchase new fighter jets for the Swiss military. As of today the polling opponents hold a narrow lead, about 51% opposed compared to 45% in favour, with the rest as yet undecided. If voters reject the deal the Swiss government negotiated with the Swedes for a bunch of new fighter aircraft, then that's it. No means no! (in 2013 Swiss citizens were called out to vote in March, 3 questions; in June, 2 questions; in September, 3 questions; and it November, 3 questions. There will be that many this year again. It ain't cheep, but that's direct democracy for you.

    Representative democracy is fundamentally different. Citizens of a representative democracy have the power to determine the WHO of government, but they have no say in the WHAT of government.

    The Dictionary of Canadian Law defines Local Government as follows:

     "1. A system of government by which administration of local affairs is entrusted to local authority. 2. A body with legislative power over a local area but which national authority may overrule."

    So if council says yes, but the province or the feds say no, then no it is. What citizens think or say about it is irrelevant.

    All a municipal council in Grand Forks or in any other Canadian municipality (except in the Yukon) needs to do to make a DEMOCRATIC decision is to pass a resolution or adopt a bylaw in the belief that it knows what is best for the community. Period.

    The Yukon is the only Canadian jurisdiction which, in its Municipal Act (Division 16, Public Votes, sec. 150-159) provides for plebiscites and referendums the results of which are binding on municipal councils.

    So, maybe, instead of complaining that councils are not acting in a democratic fashion (which is not true, because they are acting in conformance with the legally established form of democracy applicable to them) and instead of the constant whimpering about taxes being too high, maybe, one of these years (or decades) citizens in the province will get organized to push for a change in the form of democracy the B.C. Government has established for municipalities in the Community Charter.

    After all, if the Yukon, as a mere Territory can do it, then sure as heck a province can. there is nothing in the Constitution to prevent a province from establishling a system of direct democracy for municipal governments, just as the Yukon's Legislative Assembly has done nearly two decades ago. Instead of moving towards greater citizen engagement, British Columbia continues to marginalize the citizens' political power by extending council terms from 3 years to 4. And what was the public response to that? Not even as much as blah-blah.

    So don't go around blaming council for doing what it thinks is best for you, because doing so - doing what it thinks is best for you - is precisely the job to which you have elected your council.

  • COMMENT: Taxes and Their Role in Our Society   1 year 2 weeks ago

    The first major cut to progressive taxation that I was aware of happened over 40 years ago when Justin Trudeau's father was PM. Then, as now, it was sold with the claim that the rich would use their increased wealth to create jobs. Now we can only fantasize about having unemployment rates as low as they were then. Within a couple of years the unemployment rate began a rise that still continues despite many redefinitions of "unemployment" to make the number appear smaller.

    The notion of job creation by the rich is even more absurd in the current free-trade world when so much money is invested in production facilities in slave-wage economies at the expense of first world manufacturing jobs.

    Other absurd premises of the tax-cut true believers are:

    Taxation takes money out of the economy. In reality, the government spends every cent it gets (and more--but that's another problem) and most of it goes into the domestic economy. In fact, despite grotesque military expenditures, a higher percentage of public-sector spending goes into the domestic economy than private-sector spending.

    Governments can not create jobs. This would seem  too absurd to mention except that this riding elected and re-elected an MP who made that very claim. When asked where he imagined the public-sector jobs he proposed to destroy came from he gave a political non-answer.

    The private sector is inherently highly efficient and the public sector is  inherently bureauocracy-bound and incompetent. Anybody who has worked for a large corporation should see the absurdity of this claim. In fact, bureauocracy is more a function of size than of sector. As corporations get bigger they get increasingly bureauocratic. If we were to elect people who were driven more by the notion of public service rather than by ideology they could make government less bureauocratic. Though politicians and public servants can be obscenely overpaid the money they extract from the enterprise is miniscule compared to corporate executive wages.

    Government should be run like a business. This is an extension of the notion that government is inherently inefficient. Government is not a business. It exists (or should exist) to serve the public--not to make a profit. Businesses cut people loose when they can no longer contribute to profit. Decent governments provide for people's needs when they are too young or too old or too ill or too handicapped to be productive.

    If the rich are made richer their spending will trickle down to the rest of us. There is a trickle down. there is also a flow upwards. The first world has plenty of evidence that the whole society prospers when the poor have a disposable income. The third world shows us that it does not work the other way around.

    The free market is very good at providing material goods for people with disposable incomes. It is very bad at providing for the needs of people without money. A civilized society must tax to provide for peoples' needs.

    Why should not those who benefit the most from the prosperity that a large public sector provides pay a proportionately larger share of the taxes necessary to finance the public sector?

    Here's an equation that the corporate media never tell you about:

    Tax cuts equals health health care cuts --and education cuts and infrastructure-funding cuts, and protective regulation cuts and cuts to a wide range of  other public services that the private sector has no interest in providing.

  • COMMENT: The AGLG report. Now what?   1 year 2 weeks ago

    We all know by now (or should know) that Rossland Council went off the rails the day Victor Kumar was hired as CAO and insisted that Council pass the Delegation Bylaw which delegated to this newcomer to Rossland all the powers that Council possibly could delegate--along with the right to exercise those powers without oversight by Council. This included the power to let contracts, the power to approve development permit applications, the power to commit you the taxpayers to paying ridiculously high staff salaries, and more.  That is history--the history of a Council that abbrogated its oversight responsibilities with predictable results in terms of corruption and other forms of wasteful expenditures.

    Here is a bit more history that you may not know: More than a year ago, when citizens complained in a public meeting about this terrible bylaw, Mayor Granstrom said, and I quote, BYLAWS CAN BE CHANGED.  In a subsequent e-mail to me, he assured me that he was working to that end. I also received an e-mail from Councilor Fisher who said he had read that by-law and IN NO WAY SHOULD IT BE ALLOWED TO STAND.  Then there is Councilor Moore who, as far back as January 2013 was trying to get that bylaw rescinded. So there are three people on Council, one of them being the mayor, who committed to reclaiming the astonishing near-total power that a previous council had delegated to the CAO.

    Yet the Delegation Bylaw still stands. The present CAO (hired by Kumar) has exactly the same power to do pretty much as she pleases as Kumar had when he was in that position. THAT is current reality.  As long as this bylaw remains in place, it is not your elected Council but the present CAO who has the power to make the criticial decisions mentioned above (and many others.)  One power Council does retain is the power to eliminate or modify the Delegation Bylaw. But that, it seems, is something it is not going to do unless a substantial majority of Rosslanders demand it. 

    As in all wannabe democracies, what happens next depends not on what THEY decide to do about this problem,  but on what we-the-people decide to do about it. If we do nothing, then that is what we can expect to happen: nothing.





  • CONTEST: Sponsored by Canadoodle Australian Labradoodles   1 year 2 weeks ago

    Canadoodle Australian Labradoodles is shining bright with this months contest!! 

  • LETTER: Water metres not fiscally responsible   1 year 2 weeks ago

    This is an excellent letter, Donna!  I hope you've sent it to the Grand Forks Gazette.

  • Tayla Scott joins Source/Champion team   1 year 2 weeks ago

    Welcome, Tayla! Great to have you on board...

  • COMMENT: Taxes and Their Role in Our Society   1 year 2 weeks ago

    I'm puzzled by the argument that an opposition MP is responsible  for the economic conditions in his riding "on his watch." If economic and taxation policy is set by the Conservative government of the day, shouldn't the benefits of that policy apply to all Canadians in all regions, regardless of the affiliation of the MP? What powers does Atamanenko have as an oposition MP that would allow him to screw over our riding, which should otherwise be basking in the economic glory that cuts to corporate taxes and social programs bring?


  • COMMENT: Taxes and Their Role in Our Society   1 year 2 weeks ago

    Personally, viirga, I don't know many of these 'idle' people you mention here. The 'lazy welfare bum' living large on the sweat of others' brows is a myth of right wing media. Poverty isn't a choice for most disadvantaged people--it's something that's been thrust upon them by troubled backgrounds, bad luck or a general lack of well-paying work in society (you'd think Stephen Harper would have managed to create many fine, well-paying jobs after 7 years in office with almost absolute power and a philosophy very much like yours...instead the poor keep getting poorer and the rich keep getting richer for some reason....hmmm).

    All research shows that human happiness is greater across the board in societies that take care of the weakest among them. It's also true that in 'pull yourself up by your own bootstraps' societies, human suffering...and particularly child suffering and domestic violence...are much greater. This is objective fact, not political posturing.

    If your philosophy of low taxation and high standards of living actually works, please name one country that has successfully implemented it.  Unfortunately, if you look into this, you'll find that, time and time again, the countries rated 'best to live in' by the UN and other bodies are socialist nations like Sweden or even...Canada (historically, though Harper is doing his best to fix this).

  • COMMENT: Taxes and Their Role in Our Society   1 year 2 weeks ago

    Ratepayers are holding the fort for those too Idle to Care. Easy to call for more tax when you don't contribute. 

    Go ahead double the corporate tax and you'll find you raise no where near the wealth that small increases in personal income raises. Creating jobs raises more tax than any other way. 

    Jobs then lead to value-added consumer taxes; and then those families, supported by employment, buy homes and are further taxed. These are ratepayers that directly invest in communities. These ignored and unsung local heroes are the backbone of local community.

    This MP is a blackhole to the Kootenays and must accept responsibility for the failure of the local economy and the high poverty rate on his watch.


  • COMMENT: Taxes and Their Role in Our Society   1 year 2 weeks ago

    It is not enough to compare tax rates alone. There are two sources to money spent by governments: taxes and debt.

    Comparing Sweden's tax rate to Canada's gives a better picture.

    Public debt as a percentage of GDP (2012):

    - Canada 84.1%, Sweden 38.6%.

    Gross Government Debt as a percentage of GDP (2012):

    - Canada 85.6%, Sweden 38.0%.

    Net Government Debt as a percentage of GDP (2012):

    - Canada 34.5%, Sweden -17.6%.

    The difference between the fiscal policies of the two countries is that one believes in buy now, pay later while the other believes in pay as you go.

    Who benefits from interest paid on government debt? Those who have the money to invest in it. Who loses? Those whose services are cut to pay the interest.

    The philosophical difference between the fiscal policies of Canada and Sweden is that here in Canada we don't give a hoot about what our grandchildren. The present is ours to enjoy, the future is their problem.


  • COMMENT: Taxes and Their Role in Our Society   1 year 2 weeks ago

    Nothing wrong with paying taxes the problem is with the idiots in government that abuse the trust that tax payers place in them. Sweden is an example of GOOD GOVERNMENT in action. It does not work that way here because of kick backs for favors received. Why is it that we keep electing those who are financed by the 1%????

  • PUBLIC MEETING: What sort of qualities do we need in a City Councillor?   1 year 2 weeks ago

    I think this series of gatherings to explore ideas of leadership and the attributes of a successful council and creative governance is a wonderful idea! Many thanks to Adrian and Foment West Kootenays for instigating it. We are such a small community, its easy to make a real difference for anyone  willing to make the effort. I would love to attend but I am currently out of town. I hope to make the next one. Thanks again to the organizers.


  • PUBLIC MEETING: What sort of qualities do we need in a City Councillor?   1 year 2 weeks ago

    Here are a few thoughts from individuals who have given much thought to what governing in a democratic manner is all about.

    Jeremy Rifkin (author, among other books, of The End of Work):

    Now, however, that the commercial and public sectors are no longer capable of securing some of the fundamental needs of the people, the public has little choice but to begin looking out for itself, once again, by reestablishing viable communities as a buffer against both the impersonal forces of the global market and increasingly weak and incompetent central governing authorities.

    Jean Vanier (author, among other books, of Becoming Human):

    If history teaches us nothing else, it is that power is borrowed. At best, power is something granted not something taken. Those who have power need the gifts of discernment and judgment, because if we recognize the temporary nature of power, then equally, we need to recognize what in the activity of dissent is valuable.

    Philip Resnick (author, among other books, of Twenty-First Century Democracy):

    To reduce democracy to a set of procedural arrangements involving the choice of elected representatives and officials to whom decision-making power is surrendered for a specific term is a very serious abdication of its participatory underpinnings.

    If you start out reflecting and discussing thoughts such as these, you may come to realize that the challenge for the next election is not so much who to vote for, but how, by what means, and to what degree citizens should be engaged in the governance of their own community AFTER the election.